What with La Jolla Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs's revived Balboa Park bulldozing project, and the battle between Republican city councilman Chris Cate and GOP ex-mayor Jerry Sanders over a hotel-tax hike to finance a Chargers stadium for Stockton's ultra-rich Spanos family, this fall's San Diego political season already appeared chocked with intrigue.
Now add the outspoken daughter of Republican former vice-president Dick Cheney, her controversial Koch brothers–linked partner, plus millions of dollars of campaign cash from the NFL owners, and the city's once sleepy political establishment may never be the same, as scores of big-money out-of-town GOP political operatives hit the ground running.
That's the word via the campaign grapevine and an August 1 disclosure report showing that an Alexandria, Virginia-based outfit calling itself New Troy Strategies has received $70,710 from the campaign committee created by the Chargers to get their subsidy proposal on the ballot and sell it to city voters.
The company, closely tied to conservative ex-Texas GOP governor Rick Perry, a longtime Spanos family favorite, boasts that in 2014 it converted "Obama Team’s dream of turning Texas blue into a nightmare of total Republican domination."
In another case, an unidentified deep-pocketed client sought to register a million "Christian voters" for an undisclosed cause.
"We targeted the 30 million unregistered Christian Americans and, as our muscle, we used the hordes of teenagers from across that country that were itching to get involved," according New Troy.
"These teens were too young to vote, but they could serve as effective spokespeople to persuade those who were over 18 years of age to register."
Professional sports and religious music played a major role in luring the teens, the firm says.
"How would we identify the young volunteers we needed? The answer was simple. NASCAR and Contemporary Christian Music."
According to New Troy, "We sponsored a NASCAR driver as a spokesman and sponsored his car. We also sponsored the largest attended music concert tour in America, Winter Jam, a nationwide tour of Contemporary Christian artists. The tour visited 43 filled-to-capacity arenas, and every night, we appealed to the young people in attendance to get involved and fight to change their country."
Mary Cheney, the former vice president's daughter, a founding partner in the firm, has plenty of experience in rough-and-tumble national politics, having worked for the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and big business, including Coors beer, where according to her online profile, she "developed and implemented a plan to effectively end a 20-year boycott of Coors products by the gay and lesbian community."
In November 2013, bitter in-family wrangling broke out between Mary Cheney, a lesbian, and her straight sister Liz over Mary's advocacy of same-sex marriage.
“What amazes me is that she says she’s running to be a new generation of leader,” Mary Cheney told the New York Times of Liz, then seeking a U.S. senate seat from Wyoming. “I’m not sure how sticking to the positions of the last 20 or 30 years is the best way to do that.” Liz pulled out of the race in the midst of the controversy and this year is seeking a House seat.
Cheney's founding co-partner in New Troy is David Carney, another product of the Bush dynasty, who worked for ex–New Hampshire governor and top George Herbert Walker Bush aide John Sununu. Later Carney was national field director for the 1992 Bush-Quayle campaign that lost to Democrat Bill Clinton. In 1996, he worked for Bob Dole, who was nominated at the San Diego Republican convention.
Carney has been described by the Texas Observer as "the wizard behind the curtain," for his role in "one of the nation’s most vicious campaign hit teams, a secret outfit whose reach spreads all over the American political system. It specializes in attempted assassination of political careers under the guise of issue education."
At issue: Virginia-based Americans for Job Security, what OpenSecrets.org calls a dark money political operation tied to the Koch brothers and co-founded by Carney in 1997.
"An East Coast Republican with roots that stretch back to New Hampshire and the first Bush White House, Carney served Bush I as political director. He was also chief of staff for Governor John H. Sununu. In newspapers as diverse as The Dallas Morning News and the Chicago Tribune, Carney is described as a 'GOP strategist,'" according to the Observer.
"In Texas, the press has labeled him Governor Perry’s 'chief advisor' and 'general campaign consultant.' AJS president Dubke calls Carney a 'consultant' for the group. But as recently as 2002, the media reported Carney was “chief executive” of AJS. (Carney did not respond to a request for comment from the Observer.)''
In California, Americans for Job Security was fingered in an elaborate 2012 scheme to route millions of dollars through Arizona-based political groups to the campaign to defeat Proposition 30, a tax hike sponsored by Democratic governor Jerry Brown.
The money was also earmarked to pass Proposition 32, a failed measure to block labor unions from using union dues for political expenditures. Both of those positions could come back to haunt Carney, as the Chargers downtown proposal relies on both a tax increase and a so-called project labor deal with unions.
In addition to New Troy, another Carney-linked company got cash from the Chargers campaign. Norway Hill Associates of Hancock, New Hampshire, of which according to Carney's LinkedIn profile he is chief executive, received $20,709. The disclosure shows that Carney in turn personally got $9597 from Norway Hill.
As of the reporting period ending this June 30, the Chargers disclosure says that its stadium campaign had spent a total of $3,004,477, with all but a $269.85 in-kind beverage donation from PepsiCo being picked up by the team.